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Four Prominent US Figure Skaters Who Did Not Make the Olympics

Life Does Go On After Skating - Or, There's More To Life Than Figure Skating


Only a few very fortunate figure skaters get to participate in the Olympics. For certain US figure skaters, the Olympics was in close reach, but just did not happen. This article gives information about four of those skaters.

What is obvious is that every one of these "near Olympians" persevered and pressed on. Their experience with figure skating only was a stepping stone in life.

Vikki de Vries Olympic Dreams Ended Because of an Injury

In 1982, U.S. figure skater, Vikki de Vries, won a silver medal at the United States National Figure Skating Championships and won Skate America 1981. Her 1982 national silver medal gave De Vries a spot on USA's World Figure Skating Team. She placed 7th at that World Championships, which was considered a promising finish for a first "Worlds." She had already won the U.S. National Junior Ladies title in 1980, and had been predicted to be America's hope for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. De Vries was landing several triple jumps and her artistry could not be matched.

In 1983, Vikki suffered a tendon injury and did not skate well at the US National Figure Skating Championships. Sadly, she was forced to withdraw from the 1984 U.S. National Championships due to her injury. Her 1984 Olympic dreams ended.

De Vries was advised by one of her coaches to continue competing and work towards the 1988 Winter Olympics, but she decided to turn professional and began teaching skating in 1984. She spent some years coaching, and then took a break from the sport to raise her children. She returned to coaching in 2011.


Jack Courtney - Two-Time Olympic Figure Skating Team Alternate

Jack Courtney
Photo by Jo Ann Schneider Farris

Jack Courtney was a champion artistic roller skater before he switched to ice. What is remarkable about Courtney's record is that in 1968, he won roller worlds in both singles and pairs. He also won the U.S. Senior men's title in singles in roller skating five times and the national senior pair title was won by Jack and his partner Sheryl Trueman Courtney four times.

After he switched to ice, he won medals in pair skating at the United States National Figure Skating Championships in 1975 and 1976. He was a US World Team member and was an Olympic team alternate in both 1972 and in 1976. He and his pair partner, Emily Benenson, were Olympic Team alternates in 1976; in 1972, he and Cozette Cady were Olympic team alternates. Courtney skated professionally in several ice shows and then went on to coach ice skating.

Jack Courtney admits that he was very disappointed that he didn't qualify for the Olympics after being so close to making it two different times, but life did go on. He believes he was given some of the same opportunities as other skaters that made the Olympics at the time, but things might have been a bit easier if he had been an Olympian. He is the owner of Jack's Arena Pro Shop at the Colorado Springs World Arena Ice Hall in Colorado Springs.

Angela Nikodinov - Tragedy Struck Her Skating Career

Angela Nikodinov
Getty Images

Angela Nikodinov won the bronze medal twice at the US National Figure Skating Championships in ladies singles and competed for the United States three times at the World Figure Skating Championships. She also won the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

Her 4th place finish at the US Championships in 2002 was not good enough for her to qualify for the U.S. Olympic figure skating team, but she didn't let that stop her. She went right on training and competing and planned to try for the 2006 Torino Olympics. Even though she missed the entire 2003 competition season due to injury and illness, she returned and showed promise in 2004.

Then, tragedy struck Nikodinov's family in 2005. On the way to the hotel when Angela and her mother arrived for the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Portland, her mother was killed in a car accident. Nikodinov withdrew from that competition and did not return to competitive skating.

Life went on for the skater. She skated professionally and became a figure skating coach. In 2008 she married and in 2012 she had a child.

Keauna McLaughlin Was America's Hope For Pair Skating

Keauna and Rockne Win
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Keauna McLaughlin was a prominent and up and coming U.S. pair skater. With her partner Rockne Brubaker, she won the 2008 and 2009 U.S. National Figure Skating Pair Skating title. The team also won the 2007 Junior World Championships and the 2007 U.S. Junior pair title. They also won a silver medal at the 2010 Four Continents Championships.

Many ice skating fans and experts predicted that the McLaughlin-Brubaker pair team would not only qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but perhaps win or medal. Their young, fresh, and energetic style put them "in line" not only for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but also for 2014 in Sochi. They perhaps were considered "the hope" for United States pair skating.

The pair had a motto: "To Be a Champion You Must Believe You Can Do it First."

After McLaughlin and Brubaker competed at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles finishing in a disappointing 11th place, the team made a coaching change from Dalilah Sappenfield (who has been credited for their quick rise to the top) to pair coaching veteran and great, John A.W. Nicks. They moved from Colorado Springs to southern California to train with Nicks.

It was so sure that the McLaughlin-Brubaker team would be competing in Vancouver, that numerous endorsements and advertisements featured the pair team. It has been said that the pressure related to so much attention may have been too much Keauna McLaughlin.

At the 2010 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships, which was also the 2010 Olympic trials, the pair did not skate well. McLaughlin did not land her triple Salchow jump and fell on a simple move, the back outside death spiral, in the short program. The team could not pull into the top two spots which was required to qualify for the Olympics. The pair placed fifth overall. Television cameras followed McLaughlin as she walked out of the competition arena in tears which showed she was fully aware that her 2010 Olympic dreams were over.

Not long after that, it was announced that the Keauna McLaughlin was leaving competitive figure skating altogether to pursue her education. She skated in "Skating With the Stars," a figure skating television reality show that aired on ABC in 2010 and 2011.

Rockne Brubaker continued to skate and found another partner, Mary Beth Marley. The Marley-Brubaker pair showed similar promise when they qualified for the World Figure Skating Championships in 2011, but like McLaughlin, it was announced before the 2012-13 competition season that she was also leaving competitive figure skating.

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